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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

Past Events

IAS Fellows' Seminar - Evidence, Art and Attribution

11th January 2016, 13:00 to 14:00, IAS Seminar Room, Palace Green, Professor John Brewer (California Institute of Technology, USA)

What sort of question is being asked when we wish to attribute a particular art work to a specific artist, and what sort of evidence can we adduce to answer it? Seemingly a straight-forward empirical problem – ‘did x make y’ – in practice the question is far more complex, because it operates in a series of historical contexts in which different values and different regimes of truth are given different priorities.

These, in turn, raise the question of why such a question matters, what sort of import it might have. Different methods and techniques brought to bear on the problem, using evidence derived from stylistics, historical documentation, or forensics, for example, are not neutral but are usually ideologically freighted. Professor Brewer plans to explore these issues, focusing on the debates about ‘connoisseurship’ in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Fellows' seminars take place on Monday lunchtimes in the seminar room at Cosin's Hall.

Places are limited and so any academic colleagues interested in attending a seminar should contact the Institute in advance to reserve a place.

The aim of these seminars is to develop new thinking on the big issues that are of current concern/interest for the Fellows . Each Fellow is asked to present a core idea that informs their current work, or a problem that they are tackling, that could benefit from cross-disciplinary thinking. These seminars are informal and designed to encourage discussion.

Contact for more information about this event.